CANELO forced Lara to be defensive. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
While this was always likely to be a fight where scoring was open to debate, to me there was no doubt that Canelo Alvarez deserved the decision over Erislandy Lara in Saturday’s junior middleweight fight in Las Vegas.
I had Canelo up by 116-112 after 12 interesting rather than exciting rounds. I could see 115-113; judge Levi Martinez’s 117-111 was clearly a bit too wide.
CANELO, LARA: Long, tense fight looks likely. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Alvarez -150; Lara +130
Over 9.5 -195; under 9.5 +155
Saturday’s big PPV fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Erislandy Lara should tell us a lot about Canelo. The ginger-haired Mexican superstar was disappointing against Floyd Mayweather Jr. but came back to beat up Alfredo Angulo. If Canelo is destined for greatness he should be able to win this 12-round junior middleweight match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Canelo opened as just a -140 favourite but money has been coming in on him and his current price is around -200. I agree with the Canelo money. While this fight is intriguing and evenly matched, I’m going with Canelo.
COTTO, MARTINEZ: fascinating fight. Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Martinez -185; Cotto +155
Over 10.5 -160; under 10.5 +140
Having won titles at light-welter, welter and light-middleweight, Miguel Cotto attempts to become the first Puerto Rican four-weight world champion when he moves up to the middleweight division to challenge Sergio Martinez for the WBC title at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Martinez is bigger, but Cotto has some things in his favour, not least that New York City’s huge Puerto Rican population means that he effectively has hometown advantage.
FROCH, GROVES: No love lost between British rivals.
Froch -125; Groves +100
Over 11.5 -+120; under 11.5 -140
There are times when a fight ends in such an unsatisfactory fashion that a rematch gets made by public demand. This is the situation with the return fight between Carl Froch and George Groves, which takes place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, with Sky Sports televising on PPV in the U.K. while HBO will be showing the fight for viewers in the U.S.
Froch, who will be defending his WBA “super world” and IBF 168lbs titles, felt he had proved superiority with last November’s ninth-round win — but few agreed.
MAYWEATHER; MAIDANA: Another masterclass looks likely. / Photo: TOM CASINO for Showtime
Mayweather -1250; Maidana +500
Over 10.5 -200; under 10.5 +160
When there is an upset in boxing there are usually clues — even if well-hidden ones — as to what might happen. A betting favourite might be looking past his opponent, or he might be under-prepared, or over-confident, or struggling to make weight, or perhaps beset by distractions outside the ring. He may be showing signs of slippage. Unfortunately for underdog Marcos Maidana, none of the above applies to Floyd Mayweather, who defends his WBC welterweight title, undefeated record and superstar status against the Argentinean slugger at the MGM Grand tonight; Maidana will be risking his WBA “super world” title and seeking to pull off a life-changing victory.
Try as we might, we cannot find any hint as to how Maidana can pull off a monumental surprise.
BURNS, CRAWFORD: Emotion-charged atmosphere could be factor.
Burns +150; Crawford -180
Over 10.5 -185; under 10.5 +155
After two struggling performances in a row, Ricky Burns knows he will need to be at his absolute best when he defends his WBO lightweight title against mandatory challenger Terence Crawford in Glasgow on Saturday (TV on Sky Sports in the UK., AWE in the U.S.).
This fight is, potentially, about as tough and as tricky as it gets. Burns will have a roaring Scottish crowd behind him at the Scottish National Exhibition Centre, and he’s the more experienced and perhaps the physically stronger fighter; Crawford is unbeaten, fast, clever and a sharp puncher, and, at 26, he’s the younger man by four years.
VAZQUEZ (left) is skilled but SHAFIKOV brings pressure. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Vazquez -140; Shafikov +120
Over 11.5 -160; under 11.5 +140
Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez has been an underrated fighter for much of his career, and after seven successful defences of the IBF lightweight title he is finally getting the respect he deserves. However, I believe that Vazquez’s four-year reign as champion is in considerable jeopardy when he meets Russia’s Denis Shafikov on neutral ground in Macau on Saturday — China’s Olympic gold medallist Zou Shiming tops the bill as far as the local populace is concerned but for boxing fans around the world the Vazquez-Shafikov fight is the true main event.
Shafikov, a 28-year-old southpaw, is unbeaten in 34 fights. Although held to a draw by Italy’s Brunet Zamora, he beat Zamora quite comfortably on points in a rematch two years later, which indicates to me that Shafikov is an improving fighter.
CHISORA, FURY: Hoping to set the stage for a rematch.
Chisora -500; Johnson +240
Over 9.5 -250; under 9.5 +180
Promoters Frank Warren and Mick Hennessy are joining forces to present British heavyweight rivals Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora in separate bouts in London on Saturday (TV coverage on BoxNation in the U.K., PPV in the U.S. and Fight Network in Canada). The plan is that Fury and Chisora will meet in a rematch later this year. If all works out as planned, Fury and Chisora will win to whet the boxing public’s appetite for the return fight.
There is always the risk, though, that something might go wrong.
Pascal -145; Bute +125
Over 10.5 +100; under 10.5 -120
In America they call it “neighbourhood rivalry”, in Britain “local derby”, but whatever you call it, a fight between two boxers with sizeable followings from the same city always attracts keen interest, and such is the case when former champions Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute collide at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Jan. 18.
The two meet for the NABF light-heavyweight title, TV coverage on HBO in the U.S., Sky Sports in the U.K., and there are doubts hovering over both men, Pascal due to injury problems, Bute simply because his defeat against Carl Froch in May 2012 was the type of battering that can undermine a boxer's self-belief.
UCHIYAMA: power and pressure. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
The old year has wound down as far as boxing in the West is concerned but not so in the East, with two big shows featuring three intriguing title fights in Japan on New Year’s Eve.
These fights — featuring title defences by Japanese superstars Takashi Uchiyama and Kazuto Ioka and the always entertaining slugger Takashi Miura — should provide treats for aficionados and I always think it’s a shame that none of the Western TV outlets negotiates to show these fights, even if screened on a one-day delay due to the time difference.
PAULIE, ZAB, battle for Brooklyn bragging rights tonight. / Photo: TOM CASINO, for Showtime
Malignaggi +100; Judah -120
Over 10.5 -280; under 10.5 +240
The most intriguing fights aren’t always between superstars and they don’t have to feature an undefeated star-in-the-making either. A match between two veteran fighters can also have appeal if the ingredients of the match add up to a compelling contest. We have such a fight tonight when Paulie Malignaggi takes on Zab Judah at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
These are boxers who have held championships and who have been on boxing’s big stage many times.
PACQUIAO, RIOS: Speed versus toughness on HBO PPV tonight.
Pacquiao -500; Rios +300
Over 9.5 +130; under 9.5 -150
Eleven months after crashing face-first to the canvas against Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao is back in the ring tonight, meeting Brandon Rios in a 12-round welterweight fight in the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Macau, with TV coverage on HBO PPV in the U.S. and BoxNation in the U.K. The fight takes place on Sunday morning in China to allow for peak-hour TV viewing in the U.S., as happened when Ali met Frazier in the Thrilla in Manila.
Pacquiao is the clear betting favourite, and I’m expecting him to win this fight. Bob Arum’s Top Rank organisation promotes both men, but Pacquiao is the big moneymaker and this match hasn’t been made to get him knocked off.